Why don't people sit out on their balconies?

Who I am: a non-fiction writer in Perth, Australia, who sometimes just gets curious about something.
What has me wondering this time is this: tens of thousands of balconies around Perth, almost never used by humans. Why? People must want these balconies. Do they only have in mind using them for pot plants, drying clothes, arranging chairs for ghosts to sit in, or usually nothing at all?
What is the psychology here? Has anyone studied this phenomenon? I have done a lot of Google searches, looked through hundreds of book titles at Amazon, but nothing comes up that explains this business.
I'd be glad for any clues, or contact details for anyone who may have insights into it.
Thanks.
My latest web publication, which branches a little in architecture: "Tips on choosing a suburb in Perth." http://www.viacorp.com/perth-suburbs-compared.html Looking at a lot of houses when I was researching this, I suddenly "saw" the empty balconies.
Jim Heath viacorp.com Perth
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Are you talking about balconies way above grade in multi-unit buildings, or porches and verandahs in single family houses?
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MichaelB
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One of the well known problems with balconies in apartment buildings is their depth. Below a certain width they aren't social spaces. In single family dwellings, it probably has to do with competing social spaces winning out. Around here they are used by people trying to get away from people.
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snipped-for-privacy@viacorp.com wrote in

At the mall, silly ;)
People buy McMansions to *show off*, not because they want to wenjoy living in them. Balconies are nothing more than additional decor - or, to put it another way, because it costs extra to have them, they're little more than just another way of saying "Look at how much money I have!"...
...the interesting pointbeing that usually, it's not about *having* $$, but rather, *spending* $$$. If you have a "mere" $225K house, but $1 million in income-producing investments, people look down on you, *especially* if you <GASP!!!> do your own yard work, and especially if you get regular hsorts, rather than paying $125 fro a pair of shorts that has some other guy's ("designer's") name on the arse.
It's all about the desire to be envied. IOW, social status - c.f. chimp society and baboon society.

You hit the nail on the head when you mentioned impressing others.
Such people generally think the outdoors is "oogy". Bugs are "creepy", and/or bite; if there is no wind, it's not comfortable, but if there is even the slightest breeze, it'll "mess up" the $200 salon-done hair (often done in a way that already looks like it's been slept on...ah, fashin...). If it's humid out, or it's warm out and one perspires a it, that'd ruin one';s makeup, or mkae one look like one has been exerting oneself - and if the weather is too cool, that might make makeup crack or make one's skin look dry...
...and so on and so forth. A lot of people are total dips and dooflollies.

If it was a squat, "ugly" woman or man, would you have noticed...? Or would you have thought that such people should stay indoors rather than "putting themselves on display"?
Not making an accusation, just wondering. Everyone waxes poetic about beauty - it's easy when beauty fits into the currently-accepted social definition. But what about the rest of the population?
I think the difference betweent the classic European idea of the balconey (or outdoor cafe, or so on), and the more Americanized view, is the difference between being a human being and "living", as opposed to "being on display".
- KMK

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snipped-for-privacy@viacorp.com wrote in

IMO? It's a three-pronged situation: (1) the lack of privacy, or rather, a lack of understanding and/or the effort required to do a few things to enhance balcony privacy; (2) blaconies that are too small to be sueful and/or to have priovacy adaptations made to them. A combination of potted plants and screening materials can be used to create an area which is not completely open to the stares of strangers, but first, the balcony (or patio) has to be large enough to accomidate both those materials, and a modest seating arrangement - and second, it takes a bit of knowledge about design and about the plants and materials themselves; (3) poeple increasingly are focused upon *lifestyle* as opposed to *living*. They envy people who *live* yet are not willing to adjust their own attitudes (and activities) in order to do so. In the end, although most people will get a wistful expression, and make wistful sounds, with regards to something like sitting outside to have their mornign coffee, with some greenery around to give a bit of privacy, and yet some views of the city and its activities, the fact is that most don't want to put the time, money, or effort into creating such a space, and evenif they wanted to pay someone else to create the space, most don't want to get out of bed five or ten minutes earlier so as to actually sit down and have some coffee or tea and a bit of breakfast. In short, that sort of thing is not seen as a "value producing" activity - it's personal, and provate, so you don't gain any social status from it; and it's "non-productive", i.e. does not involve making money, or making contacts with other people whom one thinks will lead to money-making connections. This is related to people having "trophy/lifestyle kids" - i.e., the "requisite" one or two kids, whom they then proceed to foist off onto nannies and daycare, and otherwise ignore. It they were more intrested in *living*, they'd take time to enjoy the kids as they developed and learned to explore the world - IOW, the kids would be a *part of their lives*, rather than mere window-dressing, i.e. *part of their lifestyle*.
Building designers understand thse things, at least on a subconscious level, so balconies are not designed for *living*. They'r more like the "requisite" pathetic little fireplace inserts that get shoved into so many homes and condos, and usually just end up making the wallspace useless (because fires are pretty messy affairs, so many, and from what I've seen most, people seldom bother with them). IOW, it's a geegaw that's become expected as part of a certain class of "lifestyle", yet has very little to do with how people actually *live*.
At least, that's my personal take on it.
-KMK

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Thanks, KMK.
That sounds exactly right. Lifestyle image vs life. The fireplace comparison is perfect.
Got it.
Jim Heath viacorp.com

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On Apr 2, 10:19 pm, snipped-for-privacy@viacorp.com wrote:

(I sent a response, but Google didn't seem to catch it...)
People do use their balconies. I see them hanging out for a sightsee, cool breeze, snooze, sun-tan, smoke, chat, barbeque. Balconies are different from living rooms or bedrooms and therefore have different usages and levels of usage.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BC_bud
The basement might be a better place for that.

You've already named 3 more uses for them. Pretty good for mere balconies.

?
That you might want to create a work of fiction and influence popular opinion and architectural vernacular? ;)

looked through hundreds of book titles at Amazon, but nothing comes up that explains this business.
You may be the first... Imagine influencing the visual landscape of architecture by your book... I can just see it on the back sleeve:
"Jim Heath, of Viacorp and author of 'Tips on choosing a suburb in Perth', has almost single-handedly changed the residential architectural landscape with this new runaway best-selling hit!"
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Ah. I see what's going on. In Australia, a "pot plant" means a decorative plant in a pot. That's what I see on some balconies. At least that's what I think I see. Next time I'll take binoculars.

looked through hundreds of book titles at Amazon, but nothing comes up that explains this business.

No need. I've got my answer and anyone else can now find it too -- that balconies are mainly useless decoration meant to impress or to look like everyone else's decoration. That seems to be what's going on. Like those fireplaces in new houses that no one will ever light.
BTW: I also posted my question on alt.psychology but got no answers. I thought that balconies might have some deep-psyche meaning. Maybe the psychologists are still thinking about it.
Meanwhile, alt.architecture sorted me out. Thanks.
Jim Heath
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PS...
In multiunit residential buildings here, "outdoor amenity space" is required by zoning, and this often translates into balconies. Something similar may be at work down under.
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MichaelB
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That's what I suspected you meant, but maybe what you were seeing were little people.

Good idea.

In life, there're places for art, decoration and irrationality, as well, I suppose, as journalists'/writers'/media's "armchair-notions" of intent, motivation, uselessness and social-engineering.

I wonder why.

Maybe they're researching the matter. Anecdotal evidence goes only so far, and practically anyone can write a book about anything.

Cool.
You're welcome.

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